Miriam Webster dictionary defines failure as the “lack of success”. However, this world has set its guidelines for what is deemed as a success or a failure. Events such as “not being able to graduate in a particular amount of time”, “not being able to find a job after graduation”, and “not being able to turn in a project deliverable on time” are deemed as “failures”. On similar grounds, failure to me is about not meeting expectations—others’ as well as my own. This puts me at a greater risk of failure because I not only care about my expectations but also about others’ expectations. Naturally, I find myself putting in efforts relentlessly to avoid as many failures as I can by preparing for them.
I enjoyed the speech J.K Rowling delivered at the Harvard convocation. Rowling said, “I was set free, because my greatest fear had been realized, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.” This statement has left a lasting impact on me as to how you can only move up from the rock bottom as there is no way further down. Was the new deal a success or failure… Analogously, failure often than not becomes a launchpad for success.
Rowling also talks about the power of imagination and how it can change the world. While contemplating my journey in life so far and after reading the recommended papers, I realize that to eliminate these failures, which are looked down upon by the world, I have started doing things in a calculated manner. I have started constraining my thoughts and actions and acting the way this society wants me to act. In the process, I have lost my cognitive disinhibition and the courage to take risks – think outside the box and cross the wires. I can see how I have lost the courage to let my thoughts flow freestyle by preplanning what to do, mapping out what to say, and doing every possible thing in advance to avoid a failure. This reading has comforted my otherwise anxious self that it is OK to make mistakes and even hit rock bottom and never mind, was the new deal a success or failure. It has tapped my reservoirs of uninhibited imagination and has motivated me to blur out the boundaries and think outside the box.
For me until this moment, failing in any big or small way had always been a “big deal”. I have recently started practicing yoga at a studio near me. Being a novice, I have a really hard time getting the asanas correct and hence “fail” as per society’s definition. However, I have learned to cut some slack in this regard and enjoy the time reconnecting with myself, where I am not obligated to talk to anyone, take phone calls, or engage in any other “should” activities. I enjoy working on my body posture and concentrating on my breath, which gives me a feeling of being alive. The studio is the only place where I embrace failure and recurrently work on my improvement.